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Reflection
on the Readings


 Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, WisconsinOctober 19, 2007 Issue 

A call from God for faith and justice

Beyond faith and justice, the judge in the Gospel lacked courage and charity

October 21, 2007 -- 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time


By Bishop Robert Morneau

photo of Bishop Robert Morneau
Bishop
Robert Morneau

Questions for reflection:

1. What is your understanding of justice?

2. Why is swift justice so important?

3. How is justice linked to faith, courage, and charity?

There are two virtues mentioned in the Gospel today: faith and justice. These virtues are mentioned in the context of a parable about a widow and the judge, a judge who was not doing his duty and a widow who was persistent in her rights.

Faith deals with our relationship with God and, when strong, empowers us to truly believe that God's love and mercy surrounds and sustains us. Jesus ends the parable by asking if any faith will be found on earth at the end of time.

Justice is concerned with giving to each person what is his/her due. A just person protects and promotes the rights of others. Although the question is not asked, it might well be: will there be any justice at the end of time?

Moses was a man of faith. When his people were at war and being defeated, he prayed for help. In that prayer he was supported by Aaron and Hur, literally and figuratively. The prayer for victory was answered and the Israelites were saved. St. Paul, too, was a man of faith and conviction. In writing to Timothy, St. Paul makes it clear that "faith in Jesus Christ leads to salvation." Paul lived in God's presence and proclaimed God's message. Faith was the cornerstone of his life as it was in the life of Moses.

And what about justice? In speaking about duties and rights, we are dealing with relationships between individuals as well as between nations. The war being waged in the first reading is like all wars, contests of conflict because someone's rights are being violated. As we know so well, there is no peace without justice. Unfortunately, because our faith is weak and our charity shallow, wars continue on the face of earth. Would that all human conflict could be handled without violence.

St. Paul reminds Timothy of his duty to preach the word of God in all seasons. This obligation, if fulfilled, means that Timothy will be called a just man. The people have a right to know about God's word and the teachers of that word must proclaim it boldly and consistently. Failure to do this means that justice is not being done, that peace is being thwarted.

Back to the Gospel parable. Although faith and justice are explicitly mentioned, there are two other virtues that are lacking: courage and charity. The judge lacked the courage to give the widow her rights. More, he lacked charity in that he cared "little for God or man." This guy should have been disbarred.

The Gospel acclamation: "The word of God is living and active; it probes the thoughts and motives of our heart."

As we enter into the Eucharist we might ask about the level of our faith and justice, of our courage and charity. After all, the parable is meant for us. God calls us to swift justice and an abiding faith. God does probe our thoughts, feelings and actions; God's word is powerful and will accomplish its end.


(Bishop Morneau is the auxiliary bishop of the Green Bay Diocese and pastor of Resurrection Parish in Allouez.)


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